Incredible selection of artefacts, a wonderful herring fishing section – depicting the herring boom of the early 19th century and much more to see. It is suggestible of setting aside as much time as possible for this as you will wish that you had more time to see it all! On the 28 August 2009 The Lord-Lieutenenat of Caithness, Miss Anne Dunnett, presented The Wick Society with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
By 1860 Wick had grown to be Europe’s premier herring fishing port. The town’s development around the fickle fortunes of fishing is a remarkable story of vision, good planning, investment, courage, hardship and industry. The Art Gallery displays a number of paintings, many by local artists, of local places and people. Among these are paintings by members of the Johnston family whose photographic archive is also held by The Wick Society.
A collection of the glassware through the years has been donated to Wick Heritage Museum and is now on show. The Centre is designed to gradually lead you through all aspects of life in the town. The contents run to many thousands of items in rooms and cases. With 50,000 plus negatives from the collection catalogued their is a massive amount of information available. Wick’s Heritage is graphically documented in – an award-winning Museum – a beautifully restored 19th century fishing boat – the unique ‘Johnston Collection’ revealing 112 years of social history captured by a family of local photographers – and much, much more!
The Johnston Collection
Brothers Alexander and James Johnston, Alex’s son and Alex’s grandson captured an era when Wick was the “herring capital of Europe.” This unique collection represents the work of three generations of a local family of photographers who captured images of life in and around Wick between 1863 and 1975. During that period they produced around 100,000 glass-plate negatives. Of these, nearly 50,000 survive and are held in trust by the Wick Society.
Examine Noss Head Lighthouse
Within the Wick Heritage Museum you can examine the complete optical and mechanical working of Noss Head Lighthouse. (lat 58 28 lon 3 3). The lighthouse is in three main parts. Beginning at the top you can see 16 triangular mirrors with 16 lenses and prisms in the shape of an umbrella and underneath 16 vertical lenses and prisms. One of these has been left out to give a good view of the lamp, which was made in France in 1848.
The Isabella Fortuna Restoration which is berthed in Wick Harbour but during the winter
Built by James Weir, Arbroath, the Isabella was launched on the 15th September 1890. With an overall length of 45 feet, 13 feet 9 inches beam and a draught of 6 feet the vessel was intended for line and drift-net fishing. In 1932 the name was changed to Fortuna. In 1980 the Fortuna became the Isabella Fortuna incorporating once more the original name.
In 1997 the Wick Society bought the Isabella Fortuna. Since that date enthusiastic volunteers have been engaged on a continuous programme of renewal and restoration. (A pictorial record of the vessel and the restoration is available from The Wick Society.) Major reconstruction, renewal and overhaul have been necessary to keep the boat seaworthy. The Isabella Fortuna is normally berthed in Wick Harbour but during the winter she is housed in the old Lifeboat Shed on the South shore of Wick Bay.
For the more energetic, why not climb the terraced gardens at the rear of the Museum and enjoy the fine views of the harbour, Wick Bay, Pilot House, Old Lifeboat House and Slipway, Herring Mart, Lifeboat Shed and Thomas Telford’s Lower Pulteneytown.
Contact Wick Heritage Centre:
The Wick Society
Telephone/Fax: 01955 605393
Also visit nearby Caithness Broch Centre:
Caithness has one of the richest archaeology landscapes in Scotland. The county has an abundance of chambered cairns, brochs, stone circles, settlements, castles and harbours. Central to understanding of Scottish prehistory in the centuries before the formation of the Scottish nation are the brochs large stone towers built over 2000 years ago.
Beware! Vikings in Caithness! Visit Auckengill – Northland Viking Centre and explore the Viking heritage of Caithness at this visitor exhibition and audiovisual display of Pictish, pre-Viking and late Norse archaeology of Caithness.
Old Northlands Viking Centre is now transformed into the Caithness Broch Centre. This new facility, collaboration between Caithness Archaeological Trust and Highland Council, will celebrate the extraordinarily rich archaeology landscape of Caithness. There are three main narratives: the nineteenth century community who first excavated the brochs; the community who lived in the area two thousand years ago; and the community who now work and live with the brochs.
Caithness has more brochs per square mile than any other region and the area in and around Sinclair Bay on the north coast of Caithness is unique. It has the densest distribution of brochs in Scotland and has seen more broch excavations than any other area. The Caithness Broch Centre is home to an ambitious and innovative display that presents a new story of the prehistory of the north coast of Caithness during the time of the brochs.
It has three main narratives: the 19th century community who first excavated the brochs; the community who lived in the area two thousand years ago; and the community who now work and live with the brochs. The project is a collaboration with the National Museums of Scotland who have returned Artefacts from National Museums for display in the centre. More details: Click here
Contact Caithness Broch Centre:
En route to John o’ Groats,
Auckengill, just north of Keiss, by Wick, KW1 4XP
Tel: 01955 631377 (season); (01955) 607034 (other)
Hours: May to Sept 10.30 to 4.30, Mon to Fri plus Sats Jul/Aug
Wick Heritage Centre
18-27 Bank Row Wick
Caithness KW1 5EY